Untold Tales of Falmouth

See earlier tales narrated by B. Grant Willis:  Untold Tales — Videos by FCTV

June 23, 2017



Falmouth doughboy J. Robert Kershaw was scheduled to ship out to France in 1918.  But before he got to the front line, he’d have to survive boredom, cooties, U-boats, and the spy-infested streets of Hoboken.  Find out how he fared, in our second installment excerpted from his memoir.

From Heaven to Hell via Hoboken, part 2



June 15, 2017



J. Robert Kershaw, a graduate of Falmouth’s Lawrence High School, was working as a gardener in Quissett when he found himself drafted by the army in 1917.  He would later write a memoir about his wartime service. Step back 100 years and relive the experiences of a Falmouth man sent to the trenches “over there.”

From Heaven to Hell via Hoboken



May 30, 2017



E.E.C. Swift, Jr., and his wife Mary Adelia, shown here on a Florida beach in 1935, look like a typical pair of New England snowbirds.  Would anyone ever guess that they were early fans of . . . NASCAR?  Click on the link below to learn more about this Falmouth couple, and their surprising connection to Daytona.

The Man who Owned Daytona Beach


February 20, 2017

1948 WH outfall chart Ebb Tide001Since 1904, Falmouth has always enjoyed a good fight over sewers.  Woods Hole was the first section of town to receive a sewer, and that development came about only after 40 years of contentious discussion.  Another 40 years would pass before the next sewer was installed downtown.  For insight into the winding ways of local politics, and how sewers have always been deeply unpopular, no matter how necessary they may be, click on the link below.

Who Needs Sewers?


December 22, 2016




A century ago in Falmouth, a typical Christmas included oysters on the menu, the scent of bayberry candles in the kitchen, and a tree adorned by cranberries and a newfangled thing called tinsel.  Let Eleanor Conant bring you back to a special holiday in the house where she grew up.

Conant House Christmas 1915



December 15, 2016



Christmas in Falmouth was originally a very quiet affair.  See how holiday celebrations changed over time, and find out which of your favorite Christmas carols isn’t really about Christmas at all!

Christmas Music from the Archives


September 27, 2016

moore-family-reunion-1900One of the people in this photo inspired some of the earliest poems that Katharine Lee Bates ever wrote.  Find out more about her, and about the poetry of everyday life in Falmouth in the late 1800s.

Abbie Moore’s Poetic Life



August 22, 2016

Dwight home Res Fal

If you’ve ever wondered about the lifestyles of wealthy summer visitors at the turn of the century, you’ll appreciate our latest “indispensable sources.”  (Did you know that Falmouth has a connection to the Kennedy dynasty, at its very beginning?)  Click on the link below to discover more . . .

Indispensable Sources Part 3


July 28, 2016

Fontaine poster for teaser

For 45 years, the Falmouth Playhouse brought to our town a touch of Hollywood glamor and Broadway sophistication.  An evening at the playhouse was the highlight of many a summer vacation.  As this acclaimed theater fades into history, playbills and pictures from our archives keep alive the memory of a beloved cultural landmark.

Remembering Falmouth Playhouse




July 11, 2016

Harbors Docks Piers009

Where did the locals go to swim in 1850?  Oliver Franklin Swift offers a guide to the best swimming holes in Falmouth, way back before the time when summer people began to visit.

Top Three Swimming Spots in 1850




June 24, 2016

2014.94.205A long time ago in Falmouth, the Fourth of July sparked a cat-and-mouse game between some high spirited boys bent on making a big noise, and a wily church sexton who was determined to outwit them. Who would have the last laugh?

The Laughter of Baalis Shiverick



June 10, 2016

Prospectus - Copy

As Falmouth developed into a popular resort, Rev. Charles Washburn started a camp for workers who might not otherwise be able to afford a vacation.  Fun was mixed with moral uplift at the minister’s Summer Institute, which was nicknamed

Culture Camp By-the-Sea



May 27, 2016

bowerman homestead 1These people (and their horses) are posing in front of the oldest house in Falmouth.  Find out where it is, and which two sources you can consult from home to learn about all of Falmouth’s historic buildings.

Indispensable Sources Part 2



April 7, 2016

Ice Fishing in Eel Pond Postcard

As winter just refuses to quit, we share Oliver Franklin Swift’s memory of a zealous hockey player who found himself in a dire situation.  Click on the link below to see how it all turned out.

Rescue at Shiverick’s Pond



February 19, 2016

Silas Jones photograph

Silas Jones was the 3rd mate of the Awashonks in 1835, when the Falmouth whaleship encountered an island that didn’t appear on any navigational charts on board.  It was a pleasant surprise in a voyage that would later be marked by shocking reversals of fortune.  Click on the link below to find out the name of the mystery island.

The Uncharted Isle



January 29, 2016

Smith Wedding Picture 1943


This happy pair of newlyweds can rightly be called the First Couple of Falmouth history.  Who are they, and what did they do to earn that title?

Click on the link below to find out.

Indispensable Sources Part One




December 22, 2015

1950 Hauser Christmas tree


Artist Henry Hauser dashed off this watercolor for his grown son, Albert, a career Coast Guardsman who shared his father’s love of painting.  Read some other tales of Falmouth families who expressed their love by exchanging memorable Christmas presents.

Christmas Memories – Presents for a Lifetime




December 18, 2015

untold talesgrace lane

Grace Lane taught English and history at Lawrence High School in 1900.  In her spare time, she made an important contribution to one of the earliest projects undertaken by the brand-new Falmouth Historical Society.  Find out how Grace helped to preserve a slice of Falmouth history, and how likeminded people are following in her footsteps today.

Archives on the Move! Everything Must Go . . .



November 25, 2015 

falmouth turkeys

In 1850, turkeys were not as bold as they are today, and Falmouth residents like Oliver F. Swift knew how to make a Thanksgiving dinner from scratch.  Read Oliver’s account of the delicious Thanksgiving feasts that he helped his mother to make.

Click on the link below to find out . . . Thanksgiving Dinner with the Swift Family



November 19, 2015



The oldest item in the archives predates the founding of Falmouth, and even the landing of the Mayflower.  How did this Bible, published in Scotland in 1576, end up in our town?  Why did the Pilgrims prefer this translation to the King James version?  And what does a typewriter tycoon have to do with it?

Click on the link below to find out . . .

The Pilgrims’ Favorite Bible



October 30, 2015

Palmer stone with cherub010 - CopyIn honor of Halloween, we turn once more to the memoirs of Oliver Franklin Swift.  He describes two “weird” women who stood out among the residents of 1850s Falmouth.   Were they witches, or were they just misunderstood?  Click on the link below, and see what you think.

Weird Women of 1850


October 23, 2015

Allen Crocker farm top


Allen Crocker, a lonely widower, hoped to win the hand of Lydia Brown.  Would she agree to exchange her Nantucket home for his East Falmouth cranberry farm?  Click on the link below for Allen’s proposal, and Lydia’s response.

The Cranberry Farmer’s Proposal


October 2, 2015

Bigger MapAfter a contentious Town Meeting in 1906, some residents attempted to secede and form their own town called “Nobska.”  They would have taken 3/4 of Falmouth’s coastline and much of its wealth.  Guest blogger  Les Garrick describes the personalities and politics behind the conflict.  Click on the link below to find out how  the west was almost lost.

A Town Called Nobska



September 25, 2015

Lincoln-Seward autograph copy - CopyThis prized Lincoln autograph found its way into the Museums’ archives thanks to a nervous boy named Herbie.  Click on the link below to find out what happened.

When Herbie Met Mr. Lincoln


September 18, 2015

1944-Hurricane001Many of us remember Hurricane Bob in 1991, but hurricanes were barreling into the Cape long before that.  What was it like to ride out a storm in Falmouth in 1815?  How about in 1944?  When the storm surge came up Buzzards Bay, where did it deposit Theophilus Gifford’s pumpkins?  Click on the link below to find out.

Hurricanes, in Words and Pictures from the Archives


September 11, 2015

ca 1900 Lawrence Academy stereoview 42 copy


What was it like to be a schoolboy in Falmouth in 1850?  When he was an old man, Oliver Franklin Swift wrote a memoir for his grandchildren, sharing memories of the town he grew up in and never forgot.  In his own words, read about his schools, his friends, and their primitive version of football that sounds more like soccer or rugby.  You may be surprised to discover how they made their own footballs!  Click on the link below to find out.

Back to School with Oliver Franklin Swift, circa 1850


September 4, 2015

detail copy

Can you recognize this detail from a prominent picture in Falmouth?  Almost all of us have seen it more times than we can count.  Who created it and why?  Click on the link below to find out . . .

The Tale of Karl Oberteuffer and His Hopeful Dawn


August 28, 2015

Sargent Estate Picture from Trip Around CCThe Sargent Estate in Waquoit is now the home of WBNERR.  In the 1920s, Norman Rutherford lived here in grand style–until the day he simply disappeared.  What happened to him? Click on the link below to find out . . .

The Tale of Norman Rutherford, Mystery Man of Waquoit


August 21, 2015

Indenture Wing to Hatch edited for blog

John Wing and Emily Gifford were bound out as indentured servants in 19th century Falmouth.  Their contracts are now on display in the Wicks House.  When our research team delved into what happened to John and Emily after their indentures were over, we were surprised and moved by what we discovered.   Click on the link below to find out why . . .

The Tale of John and Emily, Freed from Indenture


August 14, 2015

1831 Augusta Crocker bad conduct

This document from our archives shows Captain Nathaniel Eldred complaining about the bad conduct of his indentured servant, Augusta Crocker.  How did this 15-year-old dare to defy her master and the overseers of the poor?  Click on the link below to find out . . .

The Tale of Augusta Crocker, Rebellious Servant


August 7, 2015


When he tended to the poor of Falmouth, Dr. Wicks kept a full array of medical instruments ready for any emergency.  It paid off when he encountered a pauper in need of amputation.  Was the operation successful?  Click on the link below to find out . . .

The Tale of Dr. Wicks and the Poorhouse




July 31, 2015 

Julia Wood and her Peaks team

Which one of these unassuming young ladies went on to a trailblazing career? Click on the link below to find out…

The Tale of Dr. Bessie Davis